Family Life and Religion
I was raised in a muslim family. My parents and I were born in Pakistan and moved to England when I was very young. My dad moved to England earlier in his life to get a decent education and a job. He worked very hard to earn a good life and succeeded. He is very well respected within my community due to this. My mum on the other hand was born and raised in Pakistan, as a result she is much more traditional and I have less in common with her. She doesn't very speak very good English and due to this me and her have a language barrier when it comes to communication. Language has never been my speciality and overtime I have slowly been losing the ability to speak good Punjabi as I barely need to use it except for when speaking to my mum, however as we don't tend to share any interests it is very difficult to spark up a decent conversation with her though I still manage to have basic conversations with her however.
I find it easier to talk to dad and usually talk to him about issues. We still never talked much during my younger years though, I'm not entirely sure why. It may have been because I was a shy kid and my social skills weren't particularly excellent and they worsened as I got older.
I have a very good relationship with my siblings whom I love very much. I did not have a very religious upbringing as my parents had never been very religious in the past, although they still followed the general Islam but did not pray much until very recently. I believed in Islam and always felt guilty for not praying, but I was a lazy kid and kept coming up with excuses for myself as I did not know how to approach my parents about praying. My relationship with them was not excellent when I was younger and I never knew how to speak to them.
As I got older I became desensitized to the issue of prayer and learned to partially ignore it. My parents started praying during Ramadhan and made me join in. I was quite happy too as it took some of the guilt off me. I found the whole procedure quite tedious though, it was boring and repetitive however I was happy that I was pleasing Allah.
I never looked at religion sceptically before my second year in Uni. I pushed back any doubts I had and wouldn't research the religion properly in case I found something I didn't like. I followed my own idealistic version of Islam and swallowed all the nonsense about Islam treating genders perfectly equal. I was very gullible, I believed any lies told to me such as reading the Coca Cola advert backwards reads something insulting to Islam. I think subconsciously I always knew something was wrong but I could never face my doubts.
I used to be a very happy girl when I first came to high school. Everyone always commented on the fact that I as always smiling. I was also a very shy girl, this shyness grew as the years went on. I think this was partially influenced by the fact that I was not allowed to go out much, and not at all during the evening. I ended up withdrawing from the social world and became obsessed with chatrooms and online forums instead. I had quite a large of base of friends online, much more than friends I actually met in real life. In the real world I was slowly becoming more and more inept dealing with social situations, I found it very difficult to start a conversation with anyone other than my close friends.
My parents did not make the situation much better. They did not like the fact that a lot of my friends were white during my later years of school and constantly hurled racist comments at them and called them 'kafir', I personally find that term as derogatory as the term 'nigger'. My friendship situation couldn't be helped realistically as most my muslims friends left school after completing their GCSEs to get married off. They weren't the greatest people in the world though, two of them were bullies; two of them acted so far up their arse because they wore a scarf and felt 'righteous'; one of them was a weirdo and thought she had a jinn in her; the other was lovely however. I don't know how she is any more, I lost contact with her after her parents pulled her out of school to get married. I really do worry about her, she had a tough life.
Through my teen years I always dreamed that one day when I attain freedom I can finally go out whenever I want. I could make loads of friends and enjoy life to the full. I wanted my marriage to be like this, I would hope to have an open-minded husband who wanted to have fun too. At the time my parents (especially my mum) did not want me to speak to boys. She always got paranoid if a boy waved to me on the street asking me if he was a friend or something 'more'. I thought my parents would want me to have an arranged marriage, I know my dad would never force me to get married however. He hates the concept of a forced marriage.
During my second year of sixth form my longing for freedom increased. Not surprising as these were the years people were allowed to legally drink. My friends went out every now and then to pubs and kept inviting me, however I was not allowed. This made me feel terrible. We kept coming up with all sorts of plans to sneak me out but nothing that would work. I made myself apathetic to these issues as it was the easiest way to cope.
A few months later, my school was holding a Christmas party at a pub. I knew I wouldn't be allowed to come however I hatched a plan that would let me go there for an hour (until 9pm). I told my parents I had work to do and needed to work late. My mum wasn't too happy as it was with a 'white' friend, *sigh*. I went to the party, not many people were there as it was still early. I sat with my friends having a drink (I had a non-alcoholic one) and having a laugh about life. The time soon came for me to leave. It was a shame, it was still really early. When I got home I went straight to bed. The fact that I had to leave so early hit me hard. I spent the night crying, finally realising I will never get the freedom I yearned so much for. This was the start of my clinical depression which would affect my entire life.
The next few weeks I spent every living moment trying to busy myself with something so I don't become depressed again and start crying. It didn't work too well, any time I was alone for two minutes I fell apart. I couldn't cope. It was the worst feeling in the world, completely devoid of any hope. I felt so jealous of everyone elses lives, I just wanted to live normally. The holidays didn't help at all, they completely broke me as I had too much free time. I was so glad when school started again as I needed a distraction.
I started having suicidal thoughts as well, I planned out various scenarios of how I would die and be famous for it; such as jumping off the London Eye. I made a joke out of it too, like it wasn't a serious issue. Deep down it was tearing me apart. I couldn't find any one who could understand my situation, my friends tended to be white with a different culture. This made it even harder. I started dreading my future and my arranged marriage.
I have Islam to thank for not letting me commit suicide. All those threats of hell fire are actually good for something it seems. I hated it for this at the time though. Why should God force me to live a life I do not want? I hated God for this. He let me down and this made the depression even harder to cope with. I kept asking him to help me out of it, nobody deserved to go through this.
I spent about 4 months feeling like this. I lost count of the number of times I cried myself to sleep. There were times when I felt unusually happy and felt anything was possible, that my future husband would be amazing and I'd live happily ever after. I kept switching between these moods but the majority of the time I was depressed. I think I might have had Bipolar disorder. I never got myself properly diagnosed as I didn't want my parents finding out.
The thing that finally brought me out of it was the freedom I always wanted I could actually achieve! I was talking to me dad one day about my uni applications, we were going over the most like universities I could get into. The most probable was a crappy university as my grades suffered tremendously from my depression. I did get 2 A's however in the subjects that distracted me from my depression and made me happy, however one of them was an international course and I couldn't get any UCAS points from it. Dad told me I could move out and go there if I really needed to. I had never been so happy! I didn't know my dad would be so liberal! I was overcome with happiness, my freedom was finally within reach!
The next few weeks I slipped in and out of depression. It took a while to get used to the happiness. I deliberately failed certain subjects so I could only get into the crap uni (which asked for the lowest score out of all my unis). I couldn't wait. A few months later it was confirmed that I'm going to that uni. I was so nervous. I've never lived away from home before and the excitement was unbearable, I was also quite scared as it was something completely new to me.
University, First Year
First day in the new city was great! My flatmates were all very friendly and welcoming. We had a social that night in a pub where we got to know each other. I didn't drink though as I was still a muslim. I had a great time anyway and drunk people made me feel giddy and random so I fitted in quite well. I wasn't living too far from my parents home so I still visited them every weekend. Every now and then I would come up with an excuse so I can stay at uni for the weekend to have fun.
My confidence and social skills improved immensely during these months as I could finally socialise properly with no limits. My flatmates respected the fact that I didn't drink, they could never understand how I did it but they always told me I acted drunk anyway so didn't need alcohol! I forged some great friendships with my flatmates that year and I miss them greatly. My first year in university was truly an experience to remember and cherish. There were 35 people living in the building I was in and 30 of us regularly communicated and became close to each other. It felt like my second family. It's quite rare for flatmates to get on so well as we did and I will never take it for granted.
I joined the Islamic Society soon after I moved in. I was quite annoyed that they had two separate societies for each sex. One of the girls was eager to get me involved in the society. She invited me out to get to know each other. I told her about the freedom problems that were frustrating me but she wasn't bothered about it and seemed to think my parents were in their right minds. I could understand what she was trying to say but it was an annoying problem nonetheless and unnecessary. She invited me over for a meeting with the other girls the next day.
We all met in the prayer room of our university. The girl who invited me gave us a short lecture about God and how powerful he is. She was quite annoying. One of the members started wearing a headscarf recently and she received praise from everyone else there. I never liked the scarf, I thought all women should be free to show their head as it is hardly a cause worthy of controversy. The women who had started wearing the scarf stated she felt the same way about it too but began to see the positive nature of it. This scared me a little, I thought I might end up feeling like her one day and I really did not want to. I preferred equality.
We met up once more after that and she handed me some pamphlets about Islam so I could learn about it. We tried to meet up after that but I was busy during the next two arranged times. After that we lost touch. I wasn't very bothered about it though as I never liked her much.
I took full advantage of the fact that I was away from home with no more boundaries. I became quite the party person and went clubbing twice a week. I even gained more confidence in my image and actually started to look after myself. I started doing my eyebrows which I never could be bothered with before and I got a decent hair cut. I also brought a hair straightener. I visited my friends back home for a night out and they were both impressed and shocked by how much I had changed within a few months. I became a lot more talkative and started flirting with boys (and girls!). I was starting to lose my religious tendencies but kept up some of the practices such as prohibition of alcohol and pork (it wasn't hard to avoid pork as I was vegetarian at the time). I also continued to participate in Ramadan but did not need to pray as I was away from home, I was quite thankful of this as I couldn't stand it any more.
I started doing a bit of study into Islam this year, mainly because I came across some hate sites. Any issues they raised I would ask some muslims on a discussion forum and accept any justification that seemed good enough. When I asked about the intolerant verses regarding war and the killing of apostates they told me it was about a previous war and does not condone any violence today. I accepted this and never really considered the fact that this only happening in the past did not really make it any better. I was still very afraid of facing my doubts. I branded anyone criticising Islam as a hate-monger and felt they were taking verses out of context to justify their hate for Islam and muslims. I couldn't stand such people and spread the message that Islam was a peaceful religion and the followers were only allowed to fight in defence.
University, Second Year (Part 1)
My second year started off great. I decided to stay in the student residence I was already living in as it was a good place to live. My new flatmates were welcoming. We held a house party after the first week to get to know everyone. Some people joined us from the different floors in our residence but not anywhere near as many as the previous year, we still had quite a good bunch though. There was an ex-muslim boy who came from the floor below me. We got on quite well, I was surprised to find out he de-converted and asked why he did so. He did not provide any real answer for it apart from that he was not convinced. I had a small talk with him telling him the Quran was very convincing, mentioned some things about scientific miracles, etc. He said he would be willing to listen if I ever showed him some time, I doubt he was being serious as he was just trying to chat me up that night. He wasn't really my type but I didn't know how to hint this to him. Instead, being the flirty person I am I took a completely wrong approach to the situation! Not the best of ideas.
A week after this we all went to a club and he was invited along. I felt quite unnerved as I knew he had some feelings for me. He spend the night dancing with me and told me he was falling for me. That annoyed me slightly as it was only the second time we had met! I didn't respond, I wasn't sure what to say. I kept trying to avoid him when I could but it was not easy, he kept finding me. Half way through the night he tried to kiss me. I rejected his advances and told him I don't feel that way about him. He wasn't too bothered by this, he just carried on dancing with me. That was quite an awkward night.
For the first few weeks everyone was settling in together and getting to know each other. People started showing their true colours. While every one was generally friendly; one of the girls on my floor started becoming quite bitchy. She was a very spoilt woman, whatever she wanted she got. She sent her shopping receipts to her dad who would pay for the shopping no matter how expensive. She was quite proud of this and made every effort to let people know of this. She was really starting to annoy me.
October 12 came and I was ecstatic! This was the day I would get to see Dream Theatre; my favourite band live! I found some suitable attire to wear (which contained a lot of neon pink and black) and went to meet my friend at the train station. This day marks a turning point in my life where everything I once believed would slowly fall apart and leave me a completely new person. Being the flirt that I am, I met a wonderful man at this gig. He was very friendly, he gave me a piggy back during the gig so I could see the stage (I am quite short so had difficulty seeing the band). It turned out he was from the same city I was, how lucky! We walked back together to the train station after the gig. He asked me if I wanted to come back home with him, I didn't respond. I didn't know how to say 'no' so I just ignored the question, he got the hint however. We arrived back at the city we lived in, swapped numbers and parted ways.
He texted me that night, we swapped email addresses and got to know each other over the internet. It turned out we had quite a lot in common. I was in a slight dilemma though, I'm a muslim and cant have sex before marriage. I wasn't sure how to break it to him, I left it for now and planned to tell him when we met up next. I was going home for the weekend but we planned to meet up the next Monday. He invited me to his house, I felt a bit uneasy with this but wasn't too sure how to suggest another place so I accepted.
I went to his house on Monday evening, his other house mates were in and we were briefly introduced. One of them I knew already as I met him at the gig. We spent the evening in the bedroom watching Stargate and getting to know each other. It was the night I got my first kiss. I eventually conjured up the nerve to ask him if he was ok with the whole no sex before marriage thing. He told me he was fine with it! That surprised me, didn't think many men would be happy with that. I stayed the night over at his as I couldn't be asked walking home that late at night. I slept in my clothes with him. That morning made me feel very bad as I betrayed my religion. It wasn't the fact that stayed over, it was because he started fingering me that morning and I liked it so let him continue knowing fully well it wasn't allowed. I kept making excuses to myself such as it wasn't penetration sex so didn't count.
We walked back to my house that day and spent the day together. We both skipped our university lessons for that entire week as we preferred to stay with each other. We got along very well and had a lot in common. We started to progress even further sexually and I couldn't stop myself. We never went all the way, but we went as far as oral after a few weeks. Again I kept making excuses; 'it's not penetrative sex so it doesn't count!'.
He was falling for me quite quickly which I never intended. I didn't want the relationship to get too serious as my parents would never accept him and I thought I had an arranged marriage waiting for me. He knew this too and I constantly reminded him of it so he wouldn't fall for me. But he did anyway, and only two weeks into the relationship! He told me he loved me while we were falling asleep. I felt quite uncomfortable, I didn't know how to respond so I kept quiet. He responded to my silence with 'hopefully you'll fall for me after a while'. I told him I liked him a lot, which I really did as he was a very sweet and caring person. He was satisfied with that and we drifted off to sleep in each others arms.
He wanted me to meet his parents. I was quite freaked out. We only just met! He planned for us to spend the weekend at his parents house in two weeks time. I was quite nervous about meeting them. The time soon came and we set off to the train station. His parents lived in Gloucestershire and were farmers. He showed me a picture of his house and it was absolutely beautiful. I couldn't wait to see it for real.
His parents were lovely people. I had to try very hard not to laugh at his dad for he had the stereotypical farmers accent! The house was indeed beautiful and he had a very large pond in his garden full of fish and ducks. He lived in a very rural area, there was only one bus stop nearby which was quite a trek from his house and the bus only came once a week.
It was a great weekend. I finally told him I loved him and he was very appreciative. I was worried about how far our relationship had progressed only after a month after we met but it was a wonderful relationship. We got on so perfectly and never fought.
The next few months our relationship continued to grow stronger. I stopped spending much time with my actual house mates but that was mostly their own fault, not like it bothered them. The bitchy flatmate whom I mentioned earlier become even worse and started bullying certain flatmates including me. She picked out the weaker ones who didn't know how to defend themselves and bullied them relentlessly. She became the queen of the floor. Everyone sided with her, I was never sure why they did this. Many of them bitched behind her back about her. I think it was because she could actually be a decent person at times. She annoyed me far too much though and others tended to side with her, I'd had enough and stopped spending much time with them except whenever she wasn't there.
My religious side was in a crisis. I didn't know what to do. I loved my boyfriend far too much to dump him over religion. I started to wonder why God would put so much emphasis over whom I married. For me love is what makes life worth living. I couldn't think of anything else worth living for.
My boyfriend got me questioning certain things about God and got me to analyse the problem of evil better. I used to make excuses before but know they were meaningless. There was far too much unnecessary evil in the world for it to be justified. I couldn't get my head around the idea of hell and why anybody could deserve such a punishment just for not believing in God. It was God's own fault he did not spread his message very well. I started understanding the position of atheism more and more. My belief in God started to crumble. I was afraid of reading about my religion in case it built my faith up again. I didn't want to believe in such a God. He seemed so evil. I battled with my faith for several months. It was slowly fading. The fear of hell stayed however and I couldn't do anything to get rid of it. I started to become apathetic to it. This is my life and I deserved to live it to the maximum!
Slowly my faith rotted away until there was barely anything left. I was left as an agnostic. This didn't stay stable. I shifted a few times between Islam and atheism and finally settled with weak atheism. I was relieved! I had never felt so free and happy. The PoE suddenly had answers and no invisible being to blame.
Of course I still had a few problems. I couldn't justify the scientific miracles in the Quran or the fact that the Quran was 'perfect'. These problems will bothered me but I felt with some research I would start to get some answers.
University, Second Year (Part 2)
I was very afraid of reading about anything positive to do with Islam. I didn't want anything to rebuild my faith in such a cruel God. I started reading about the more negative aspects of Islam to justify my apostasy. Something I avoided like the plague back when I was a muslim. I was startled to learn that Islam was actually misogynist! Everyone had always told me it treated women equally and the Islamic countries twisted the word of the Quran. I learnt that wife beating was allowed, although what exactly constitutes as a beating is debated upon however I was very sceptical of those stating it had to be done with a small twig (what's the point in that?). The degraded status of women surprised me, I never suspected that it could be as bad as this. Why were so many muslims reluctant to admit that Islam does not treat women very well at all?
I started to read about Mohammed's wives. Aisha's age always troubled me as a muslim however I never looked too much into it as it scared me. I swallowed any apologetic that I read. But now, I no longer needed to hide my doubts and the very idea disgusted me. She is only a child! It does not matter if marrying young girls was common practice at the time, if Mohammed wants to set an example then he should be avoiding taking part in any immoral and degrading practices!
Little by little I started to realise that Islam was not as perfect as I thought. I felt my opinions were becoming too biased so I started studying the positives of Islam to get a more neutral view. My fear of something rekindling my faith had disappeared. Islam was no where near as perfect as I once thought and there was nothing that could make me go back. I still had difficulty accepting some truths about Islam, I had grown accustomed to thinking it was a peaceful religion and if I saw anything otherwise I would search furiously for sources to see if it was reliable.
My relationship with my boyfriend was growing ever stronger. I decided to 'go all the way' with him and I am glad I did. I wanted him to be my first, there isn't anybody else who I would choose over him. He was very sweet to me and made sure I was fine with it. When I told him my decision he spent the entire night repeatedly telling me he loved me (partially because he was drunk at the time!). The issue of my future arranged marriage didn't bother me too much, I was slightly worried that he may find out I wasn't a virgin but I learnt that your hymen can break before sex via other means so this issue was resolved.
There were certain things I still abstained from. I didn't drink alcohol and I was still vegetarian so did not have to make any excuses for not wanting to eat pork. I was still very afraid of hell and it kept me researching religion. The more I did that the more I became convinced it was man made. I found an article that stated some non-muslim scholars did not feel the Quran was perfect. I couldn't find anything else on it but it was a relief to see that some people felt it wasn't as great as I was told. However I was unsure if they were biased or not so did not take it at it's word but as a reassurance.
I became an avid poster on a debate forum that I used to avoid when I was a theist. I wondered if anything I read might convert me. I looked at all arguments and engaged in discussions. I found many arguments to be very poor and could not see why anyone could use them as a reason for faith. There was always one question that theists were stumped on and could not answer - "Where did God come from?" I have never heard a decent answer for this. The best theists could come up with is that God is above all laws of physics and is therefore far simpler than the universe and has a greater chance of existence. I personally struggle to see how a concious entity that has knowledge of everything, is perfect beyond doubt and is able to do anything it wills can be thought of as anything but complicated and unrealistic. Every attribute given to God sounded unrealistic. I found it convenient how God is above physics, is invisible and can somehow read all our thoughts simultaneously. Ironically enough theists never see it as a problem yet a universe existing eternally (as Loop Quantum Theory suggests) is entirely implausible!
Physics turned into a passion of mine. I used to love it when I was in high school but after losing my faith I turned to physics for answers. It provided many interesting theories for how the universe may have come to be. I read about particle physics and fell in love with the subject. There was so much I was unaware of! I started watching documentaries and reading articles that interested me. I learned about the Large Hadron Collider and learned about the Higgs Bosson. I studied the particle and what it meant for physics and I read about any discovery the LHC was planning on making. It was so exciting! I couldn't wait for it to be turned on. I was also saddened, I wanted to go back to my A levels and attempt physics and maths again. I attempted them before but dropped them as I did not have the same passion at the time. I wanted to study physics so badly. Unfortunately I knew my maths was terrible and there was not a huge chance of improving it. I settled with studying the theories in my own time.
During this time I was starting to have feelings of tremendous guilt. I have completely disobeyed my parents; I have a boyfriend; I have lost my virginity and I have lost my faith. I felt like I had betrayed them. They have always been there for me and I let them down. I had never felt so much guilt. It was tearing away at me. I didn't know who to turn to as I didn't know anyone in my situation. I wanted to tell my parents so badly that I had lost my faith but I thought they would never speak to me again and even disown me! I became so lost with no one to turn to. Whenever I was by myself for too long I ended up in tears.
My sister Miryam was the only one in my family who I disclosed the status of my faith and my secret boyfriend to. She was one of the few people who could understand as she was not religious and had a boyfriend herself. We used to have long talks about our relationships and I was glad that I was able to discuss such things with her. I didn't tell her the entire story though, she is unaware that me and my boyfriend have progressed sexually. I felt that might have been too much information for her.
I did not know what to do about my boyfriend. I wanted to break up with so I did not have to break the news to my parents about him if it ever came to that. The last thing I would want is to hurt them. I thought the summer break may be a good time to grow apart from each other and hopefully it would make it easier to break up with him. But I couldn't. I loved him too much, it would break my heart to do such a thing to him. He meant the world to me. Instead we came up with plans of how to meet up with each other during the holidays and keep in touch. The next year in my course was a placement year where I needed to get some work experience. I was not having much luck in passing job interviews so we hatched a plan that when we meet up I would just lie to my parents that I had a job interview (unless I actually had a job interview in which case I just tell the truth).
It was nearing the end of the year and I needed to start looking for accommodation. My flatmates were moving to a building just up the road we were currently living on. I considered moving up there with them however I was not too keen as I wasn't overly fond of my flatmates. My boyfriend was looking for a new house mate. One of his house mates moved out to live with his girlfriend without giving the rest of the house much warning so my boyfriend's house was quite desperate as they did not have much time to find one. If they failed to find one then they all would have to pay the extra rent which they could not afford. They had a few house visits from people however the house was such a mess that no one was too keen to move in. Out of desperation my boyfriend asked me to move in. I was shocked. We hadn't even been dating for a year! I wasn't too sure though. I felt guilty enough as it was and I certainly did not need this on my conscience! I told him if they could not find anyone else then I would move in. I couldn't say no, I'd feel too bad. I made it quite clear to my boyfriend that I would prefer not to and will only move in as a last resort.
A few weeks went by. No takers came. It was looking as if I had no choice. I was very nervous. What if we broke up? What if my parents found out I'm living with several men? There was no alternative unfortunately. It was either move in and add another lie to the list or don't move in and live with that on your conscience. I gave in. There was no way I could live with that on my conscience. I signed the contract. Everyone was relieved apart from me. I had never felt so nervous. I had to tell my parents I was living with all girls. I had to do some very careful planning. When I moved my stuff in with my dad everyone was to leave the house. I would come up with some excuse as to where everyone was if my dad asked. I just hoped it would work as planned however I could not rest my fears until I moved in successfully. Great! Another worry! Just what I needed.
The holidays came. I stayed an extra week to be with my boyfriend, after that we parted ways. It was painful being away from him. I missed him so much and always looked forward to our meet ups. I couldn't wait for the holidays to end. I was starting to look forward to living together and so was he.
University, Third Year
I had a few job interviews during the holidays for my placement year. I was getting quite worried that I would not find a place, I've had several interviews already but did not hear anything back from them. The rejections were tearing away at my confidence, I felt completely useless and that thought reduced me to tears. I'm not a very confident person to begin with and this wasn't helping me at all. During my 7th interview I finally managed to impress an interviewer! They were thinking of taking me on, but they called me at a later date and told me they changed their minds and did not want to take a placement student that year. That upset me a great deal, I nearly collapsed into tears during the phone call, I tried so hard to hold them back and stop my voice going shakey while I was talking to them. It really felt like some supernatural was working against me trying to prevent me from getting a job.
The fact that they nearly accepted me boosted my confidence somewhat, my nervousness in interviews was slowly going and I became better at selling myself. I felt the next interview wouldn't go too badly, I was very determined to get the job.
I used the job interviews as an excuse to come see my boyfriend during the holidays. Seeing him helped calm me. I wasn't coping very well with the holidays. I had too much time to myself to think about nonsense. I had a habit of creating situations in my head (usually involving my boyfriend) that always went wrong and ended up with me getting hurt. I always ended up crying due to these events that never happened! I knew that these events; if they were happening in real life would not have ended in such a bad way as my mind made them to but that thought didn't stop me from getting upset over nothing. I don't know why they affected me so much either as they were entirely made up. They drove me crazy though and I couldn't stop them. I tried to keep myself occupied to stop myself thinking this way.
My next interview came up, the two people interviewing me seemed quite nervous to me for some reason. It went quite well, I had a lot of confidence to talk and I felt I showed my strengths excellently. I met two of the other people being interviewed, they didn't seem as qualified for the job as I was so that boosted my confidence. An hour later I got a call from my uni telling me I got the job!! I was so happy! I finally did it! I met up with my bf after the interview to tell him the great news. It was such a relief to know that I wasn't completely useless.
The day of reckoning finally came. I had to move into my house full of boys. I told them to clean up any alcohol lying around, get rid of anything that might point to guys living there and stay clear of the house when I came to move in. My dad wanted to take the whole family to see my new place. I was terrified, my mum loved to peak into places she wasn't supposed to. Luckily my sister did not want to come so that meant my mum had to stay at home; 2 less people to worry about. I was worried my younger siblings may go into the other bedrooms but I could easily tell them off. My dad also wanted to go to the cinema while we were there meaning they would be in there for hours! I was feeling very nervous.
We finally got to my house. I opened the door and took a quick peak inside to see how it looked, it was quite clean! The cleanest I had ever seen it be. We moved all my stuff in. My dad wasn't too impressed with the house, it was quite scruffy and the kitchen was appalling. We were told by our landlords that they would redo the kitchen but they did not put it into the contract and so went back on their word. We went to the cinema soon after, I could bare concentrate on the movie as I had butterflies in my stomach. When the film finished they dropped me off home and left. You could not imagine my relief! I got away with it! A huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I called my house mates to let them know they can come back.
I started work the next week. My boyfriend moved in a month later. I had missed him so much during the holidays and was so glad to have him back. I really enjoyed living with him, we got along very well. I usually spent the weekend at my parents so it never felt like we spending too much time together suffocating each other.
It was our one year anniversary in October. We planned to go to Bulgaria for a few days. I did not tell my parents this, instead I told them I was staying at my house for the weekend and came up with some excuse as to why. I was very nervous. I had never sneaked off into another country before! The list of things I did to disobey my parents was growing by the day! The day finally came, I was both nervous and excited. I couldn't wait to see Bulgaria but at the same time I was so worried that I would get caught. We booked a first class train down to London, the first class tickets were cheaper then the standard ones for some reason. I loved it there, we were served drinks every half hour and given free snacks.
We arrived at the airport a few hours later, sorted our luggage and boarded the plane shortly after. We soon arrived in Bulgaria. The building of the flat we rented looked very tatty and unsafe on the outside, but when we got into our room it looked amazing. It was very clean and well done. It was better than the house I was living in! We enjoyed our anniversary in Bulgaria, I also tried some alcohol for the first time. I had finally overcome my fear of the stuff that had been indoctrinated into me when I was a muslim.
Bulgaria was an amazing place with a lot of culture. We spent most of the time getting to know the city we were in, we tried to learn the language using a translation book but it was no help at all (surprise, surprise). We pronounced everything in the wrong way and nobody could understand what we were trying to say. It was quite comical to say the least!
Coming out to my parents
A few months into the year my parents were thinking about getting my name changed to a muslim one. I was strongly against it for both the obvious reasons and the fact that I loved my name. It was a part of my identity and I did not want to change it. They finally stopped pestering me when I made it clear that I did not want to change it. My dad gave a talk some time after this, I cant remember what exactly he said but it was a load of random stuff related to Islam, about how it's our identity and such, and then he said... I don't mind if you decide to not be a muslim... BINGO!! I could not believe he said that! I thought he would go livid at the very idea! I used this moment to say that I was an agnostic. He was very surprised. He didn't expect this from me. We ended up having a long discussion about Islam, I had many questions and when he couldn't answer them he said he didn't want to go too deep in to this. In the end he told me to continue researching and I said I would. I made it quite clear that I was very sceptical of Islam, I think he realised that he did not provide many good answers to my questions. He said we may go visit an imam one day.
We had one more discussion on Islam a few days later and again he could not answer my questions. We haven't talked about it since. I'm very glad he is understanding about this, it has lifted a huge weight off my mind. I have been feeling very guilty since I left Islam, I felt I betrayed my family and this thought reduced me to tears so many times. My dad's reaction has taken most of these feelings away. In time I hope to come out completely to my dad and family and introduce my boyfriend to them one day, I know this move will cause a lot of anger and resentment but it has to be done. People need to be shown the possibility that Islam may not be the 'right' religion and that it certainly isn't perfect. Hopefully I can show some people the real truth of Islam.
To be continued...